The First Ever VB, GB (guest blogger) ~ Introducing Miss Lauren Dutton-Breen!

The First Ever VB, GB (guest blogger) ~ Introducing Miss Lauren Dutton-Breen!

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The Vibrant Beet has teamed up with Manhattan based writer (and excellent cook), Lauren Dutton-Breen. She shares with us an in-depth look at creating a mouth-watering dinner party ~ SoHo style. Thank you Lauren! Hopefully she will be back to share more. 

In a city with more than 4,200 restaurants to choose from, sometimes you just want to stay at home, be cozy, and dine in the comfort of your own (400 square foot) apartment. Yes, going out can be exciting, and yes it can be nice to get out of the 400 square foot apartment, BUT I would argue that it is also special to take four or five hours to eat, drink and be merry...and all for about $21 per person* (and with bare feet!).

This meal can be pulled off by anyone, and most things can be prepared ahead of time so that you can enjoy your company instead of being a slave to the kitchen all night. Everything is gluten free, organic, and healthy (excluding the dessert...but we earned it). I also paired the meal with a delightful white Vinho Verde, a semi-sparkling wine that translates as "young wine” and is meant to be drank within a year of bottling. And it’s super, duper cheap! First on the menu is crispy rice with snow pea and edamame “tartare”...

Crispy Rice with Snow Pea and Edamame “Tartare”
(“Tartare” can be made the day before)
-1 tsp oyster sauce
-3 Tbsp tamari sauce
-3/4 tsp yuzu rice vinegar
-1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
-3 Tbsp sesame oil
-1/2 cup snow peas
-1/2 cup edamame
-1/4 cup fresh basil
-1/2  c sticky rice
-1 Tbsp olive oil
1. Whisk together first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Let sit. Finely chop up snow peas, edamame, and basil ~ put in a medium sized bowl. If making ahead of time put both bowls in the fridge (separate of each other) until about one hour before you want to serve your appetizer. Next, pour the sauce into the medium sized bowl. Let sit.
2. Cook sticky rice (can also be made the day before). Heat a skillet with olive oil over medium/high heat. Once rice is cooled, use a tablespoon and your hands to create a patty. Place patties on hot skillet and cook on each side for about eight minutes each or until browned. Place on paper towel before serving to remove any excess oil.
3. Plate rice patties and top with about a teaspoon (or more if your patty is big enough) of the “Tartare” and enjoy!

Crab Cakes with an End of Summer Salad
(Crab cakes should be made at least three hours before and up to twenty-four hours before. Summer salad can also be made up to three hours before, but wait to dress and add avocado until you serve)
-16 oz fresh crab meat (I use back fin meat which is commonly used in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland style crab cakes. It is half the price of jumbo lump and oh-so sweet.)
-1/4 of a red bell pepper finely chopped
-1 green onion finely chopped
-2 eggs
-1/4 c quinoa flakes
-1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
-pinch of sea salt
-1 tsp ground white pepper
-1 tsp cayenne pepper
-3 Tbsp coconut oil
1.Empty crab into a large bowl. Add next eight ingredients and combine. (I prefer less filling and more crab, but if you like the filling add up to an additional ½ cup quinoa flakes). Using a large spoon and your hands, make crab patties that are about 4” wide and 1” high. Place patties on a cookie-sheet, cover with Saran Wrap, and refrigerate for at least three hours.
2. Heat skillet and coconut oil on medium heat and cook crab cakes for about eight minutes on one side and five on the other (or until brown).

Salad
-1 lime (for juice)
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 finely chopped jalapeño pepper
-pinch of sea salt
-1/2 c corn
-1 tsp olive oil
-1 can black beans
-1/2 c small chunks of heirloom tomato
-1/2 c small chunks of watermelon
-1 green onion
-handful of mache greens
-1 avocado
-1/2 c finely chopped fresh cilantro
1. Whisk together first four ingredients in small bowl and set aside.
2. Roast corn kernels in skillet and 1 tsp olive oil over medium high heat for about eight minutes, or until they are browned. Allow to cool, then place in large bowl.
3. Add black beans, tomato, watermelon, green onion, mache greens, and cilantro. If making ahead, refrigerate dressing and salad until ready to serve.
4. Just before serving, add dressing and avocado...stir and serve!

Cream Cheese Pie with Fresh Raspberries
(Can be made a day ahead)
-8 oz gluten free graham crackers
-2 Tbsp soft butter
-2 Tbsp sugar
-1 pinch of nutmeg
-8 oz cream cheese
-1 can sweetened condensed milk
-1/4 c lemon juice
Crust
1. Preheat oven to 375º
2. Put graham crackers in a blender or food processor until they are fine crumbs. Add butter, sugar, and nutmeg and mix.
3. Place crumb mixture evenly in 9-inch pie plate and bake for eight minutes or just until edges of the crust start to brown.
4. Allow to cool completely.
Filling
1. Put cream cheese, condensed milk and lemon juice in a blender until creamy.
2. Pour mixture into cooled piecrust and refrigerate until serving time.
3. Serve with any fruit you like!

I am going to go ahead and toot my own horn and say that this was deeelish! Of course, it’s not something you would just whip up on a Tuesday night while you are watching Magnum P.I. reruns (and if it is, I applaud you). But, if you want to get together with your friends to celebrate Thursday and friendship (as was our case), this is a sure fire way to impress while staying healthy and in a budget!

*Price reflects having most condiments already in house.
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Nantucket Vacation Bliss

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